I always thought that it was the big decisions that shaped the course of our lives. Choosing the right career, where to live, deciding on the right partner and if/when to have children. Get these sort of decisions right and everything else should take care of itself.
I never considered that such a paltry and seemingly inconsequential decision would be the one to dismantle my life as I knew it.
My very good friend Ross was getting married on 2nd of June 2007. On the 26th of May I flew to Spain for a weekend of partying with Ross and another 14 of our friends. It was all set up to be the perfect stag do.
On the day of the flight we all met at Ross’s house for a few beers and to hand out the specially made ‘stag do T-shirts’. An old picture of Ross dressed as a woman (far too long a story to explain) was imposed on the front of the top. On the back, Ross had chosen a nickname for each of the lads. I won’t reveal mine, my mother may end up reading this sometime!!!
Adorned with our personalised T-shirts we were in high spirits as the minibus took us to Glasgow airport. A couple more beers in the airport bar as we discussed the plans for the weekend. The main objective being to embarrass Ross as much as possible. We had plenty of pranks up our sleeves. On the flight we orchestrated some singing with the rest of the passengers to help pass the journey although the good-natured fun earned us a stern warning from the cabin crew.
After landing it wasn’t long until our small convoy of taxis drew up outside the hotel. An all-inclusive playground for 16 big kids. The plan was to ditch our bags in the allocated rooms and head straight down to the pool to enjoy our first drink of the weekend together.
During the next few seconds my way of life was altered beyond recognition. A few seconds and one carefree action. Just like that.
We had gathered round tables at the poolside. I had one look at the pool, one small sip of lager and one moment later I was floating face down in the water.
In the night-time darkness I misjudged the width of the pool. It was far too narrow for a proper dive but unaware I ran the 4 or 5 steps and with all the power in my legs pushed off into the air. I braced myself for entering the cold water but instead my head smashed against the wall of the pool and my limp body plunged into the water.
It is a miracle that I did not lose consciousness. I use the word miracle because I will always be grateful for the memories. This may seem a strange mindset, I might not be able to explain. All I can say is that compared to the alternative of wakening up in hospital with no memory of what happened I am glad to have the clarity I do. Without the memory I would be tormented wondering what happened and how I could have avoided it.
Lying face down in the pool my initial concern was drowning. The fact that I couldn’t move hadn’t registered properly. I could hear my friends talking and I started to worry that nobody would notice me. As I was starting to struggle with my breath I heard Stuart shout out “what is Steven up to?”. I felt a huge sense of relief knowing that I was safe. Ross replied “he will just be messing about as usual”. Panic. Was that to be my only chance of being saved?
‘Luckily’ when I hit the wall it gave me the tiniest of cuts on the top of my head. A cut that only required one stitch but a cut that saved my life. It was only a few seconds later that Liam saw the blood spreading out and clouding the water. “f*cking hell, he is bleeding”. I immediately heard the sound of numerous bodies splashing into the water. Still not processing the fact that I wasn’t moving I was relieved that the ordeal was over. I was dragged to the side of the pool and up out of the water and onto the ground.
Although the cut was small, like most head cuts it produced lots of blood. T-shirts taken off by ‘Elvis’, ‘The Best Man’ and ‘weekend pass’ were quickly saturated in blood as they tried to apply pressure and support my head.
I still had the sensation of floating so I asked my friends to take my legs out the water. The gravity of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks when they told me that they were already lying on the ground. Everything started to register.
Starting to panic, I told everyone that I couldn’t move. Ross was assuring me it was just shock and not to worry but I knew it was serious.
Staring straight up at the night sky I was motionless as heads peered over my body having a look while I heard unfamiliar voices screaming for an ambulance. For the next 40 minutes my friends tried to keep me calm and reassure me, which worked. I was calm now but I was also realistic, this was bad. When the ambulance eventually arrived the paramedics secured my neck with a brace and gave me a morphine injection.
I have a faint recollection of entering the ambulance but as the morphine took over I began to close my eyes.
The next time my eyes opened I was in a brightly lit hospital ward. I will come to that at a later date.
Despite the consequences I look back and can honestly say that I do not regret my actions. I was enjoying life. Sometimes spontaneous actions can be foolish but I don’t believe we can stop and analyse every decision, life is too short. That is still my philosophy today.